Chizik Pleased With Wednesday Practice

Comments from head coach Gene Chizik plus news and notes from Wednesday night's practice are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--After giving his players three days off from practice after their victory over Georgia, Coach Gene Chizik put his Auburn football team through a lengthy, full pads workout on Wednesday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"We tried to kind of get back into a physical mindset that we know this football game is going to be," Chizik said. "We had a good full pads practice. We will come back and do the same thing tomorrow."

Chizik said he saw "some energy" from his players and said "overall it was a good practice."

After playing 11 consecutive games, this is the first off week for the Tigers, who clinched the SEC West title with their victory over Georgia on Saturday. On Wednesday the Tigers began preparations for their final regular season game that will be played on the day after Thanksgiving at Alabama.

Wednesday's practice featured 11 on 11 work with the first team offense vs. the first team defense. "We are continuing to focus on the Iron Bowl and preparation and we are looking forward to being able to play this game in eight or nine days," Chizik said.

The Tigers will go into the Alabama game with two defensive players suspended for the first half because they were kicked out of the Georgia game for throwing punches in the closing minutes. That means backup defensive end Michael Goggans and backup defensive end Mike Blanc can't play until the third quarter vs. Alabama.

"Luckily we will have some depth on the defensive line," Chizik said. "Dee Ford (end) played fairly well the other night and Corey Lemonier (end) is coming along so at the defensive end spot we have some options there.

"Inside we also have some young guys who have played a good bit with Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter with (starters) Zach Clayton and Nick (Fairley) so we have got some depth there," Chizik said. "The rotations in practice really haven't changed that much so we just feel that the young guys are going to have to step up to the plate."

Jeffrey Whitaker is a freshman from Warner Robins, Ga., High.

Chizik said he is expecting an "extremely physical game" in Tuscaloosa, but noted the backup defensive linemen have experience in those type of games. "We are at the point of the year where those young guys aren't young any more," he said.

Ford, a true sophomore, said he is looking forward to getting more playing time in game 12. "It is a good time to show that I can play," he said. "It would be a big win for us."

Commenting on Wednesday night's workout at the stadium, Ford said, "It was a normal practice. You can't be too physical because you don't want to beat up too many guys, but mentally you have to be 100 percent."

In other news:

*The Tigers are scheduled to practice again on Thursday evening and then have a light workout on Friday morning before taking the day off on Saturday. They will practice on Sunday as they start game week for their regular season finale at Alabama a week from Friday.

*Kickoff for the Alabama game from Bryant-Denny Stadium will be shortly after 1:30 p.m. CST and the game will be televised nationally on CBS.

*Chizik said getting tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen back for the first time since the Ole Miss game was a plus in the Georgia game. He caught two passes vs. Georgia on Saturday with both going for touchdowns. "It is really big, really good. He is getting healthier, I?think, as the days go by." The tight end missed time with a shoulder injury.

Chizik said that considering the Tigers have played 11 consecutive weeks the team is in pretty good shape health-wise. "I think we are pretty luck at this point, I have been in worse shape at the end of the year," the coach said. "I think we are relatively healthy."

*As has been the case since his press conference on the Tuesday before the Georgia game, Chizik said he wasn't going to discuss quarterback Cam Newton unless its pertains to his on the field performance.

*Asked about playing South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game, Chizik said that the Gamecocks are a really good team, but said his focus is on his team and preparing for Alabama and that is what he wants to talk about this week.

*Juniors Cameron Newton and Nick Fairley are two of 15 players on the watch list for the 2010 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. Newton leads the nation in touchdown responsibility with 37 and Fairley leads the SEC in sacks with 7 1/2.

*Fairley is one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is presented annually to college football's top defensive player. Other candidates include Clemson end Da'Quan Bowers, Georgia linebacker Justin Houston, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

*Chizik said the competition for the No. 1 punter spot continues. "Both of them have been kicking the ball a little better in practice," he said. Senior Ryan Shoemaker started the season No. 1 before being replaced by freshman Steven Clark. Shoemaker did the punting vs. Georgia. "Both of them had some good punts," Chizik said. "Ryan did well tonight. I was proud to see that."

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